Stuff to Read About Trump

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Bad Hair, elections, Obama Administration

Charles Pierce argues that now is the time for the Republican Party to die. See also The End of the Republican Party at FiveThirtyEight.

While I don’t see the Republican Party disappearing anytime soon, Donald Trump’s chances of becoming POTUS are sinking faster than cement shoes in the East River. Per FiveThirtyEight, on July 30 it was Trump, 50.1, Clinton, 49.9. Now it’s 18.4 and 81.5, respectively. At this rate Trump will be in negative numbers by Monday.

A former Wall Street Journal reporter writes about his days covering Donald Trump. He writes that Donald Trump is a bad, bad businessman.

A former deputy director of the CIA endorses Hillary Clinton. This is the juiciest bit:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.

Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.

In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

Trump’s erratic behavior is getting so much media attention that Hillary Clinton is nearly invisible. This may be helping her also.

Clinton’s biggest problem now is that she’s not doing so well among Millennials.

And yet even though roughly three-fourths of all battleground-state Millennials expressed these disparaging views of Trump, the survey found Clinton drawing just 43 percent against him in a four-way race that included libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. While Trump attracted only 24 percent, nearly as many picked Johnson or Stein, and the rest said they were either undecided or wouldn’t vote. By comparison, Obama carried two-thirds of Millennials in 2008 and three-fifths in 2012.

But in comparing two-way and four-way polls at Real Clear Politics, it seems to me that the two fringe party candidates, Stein and Johnson, are taking votes from both Clinton and Trump about equally. So that may be a wash.

Fortunately, the Olympics will give us a little relief from politics. Enjoy.

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The Republican Revolt Begins

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Bad Hair

The hot word for today, boys and girls, is intervention.

Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.

Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.

Priebus, Giuliani and Gingrich? Excuse me while I roll around on the floor and guffaw for a bit.

Stunned Republicans began seriously considering the idea of an exit ramp after an extraordinary few days during which Trump continually lashed out against a Gold Star family critical of his position on Muslim immigration, declared that he’d “always wanted” a Purple Heart but that it’s “easier” to receive one as a gift, and declined to endorse top Republican candidates including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Sources in the candidate’s orbit tell NBC News Trump is aware of the dissatisfaction within the party. But while some labeled the state of affairs “Crazytown” and “worse than ever,” they also described a sense of powerlessness, bemoaning the fact there’s “nothing that we can do, that anybody can do right now.”

There’s absolutely no indication Trump is considering leaving the race, a move that would seem wildly out of character for a candidate who has prided himself on “winning” and grasped at any poll that shows him dominating an opponent.

However, this guy has no problem whatsoever with declaring bankruptcies, which suggests he isn’t utterly out of touch with the real world. If he continues to fall behind Clinton in the race, what will he do? Will he stay and lose or quit and whine that he was forced out because somebody was mean to him? IMO either one is possible.

If you missed all the ways Trump is having a no good, very bad week, NBC provides a list:

  • In a Washington Post interview, Trump declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan against his primary challenger
  • He reiterated that he hasn’t endorsed Sen. John McCain and said the onetime prisoner of war “has not done a good job for the vets”
  • He slapped out at Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, saying “she has given me zero support”
  • He suggested that Americans should pull their 401(k) funds out of the stock market
  • He said he’s “always wanted” to receive a Purple Heart but that having one gifted to him by a supporter was “much easier”
  • He said that the handling of sexual harassment has “got to be up to the individual”
  • He accused Khizr Khan of being “bothered” by his plan to keep terrorists out of the country, and said that he had no regrets about his clash with the family
  • He appeared to feud with a crying baby during a rally
  • He reiterated that “if the election is rigged, I would not be surprised”
  • The sitting president of the United States publicly called Trump “unfit to serve” and urged Republicans to withdraw their support for him.
  • Trump spokesman Katrina Pierson suggested that Obama and Clinton are to blame for the death of Humayan Khan, who died in 2004, when neither were in the executive branch at the time
  • An ally of Paul Manafort told our colleague John Harwood at CNBC that the campaign chairman is “mailing it in,” leaving the rest of the staff “suicidal.”
  • Sitting GOP congressman Richard Hanna, HP head Meg Whitman and former Christie aide Maria Comella all said they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton
  • The Washington Post released a transcript of its full interview with Trump, indicating among other things that he paused five times to watch TV coverage in the middle of the sit-down
  • A GOP source told NBC’s Katy Tur that Reince Priebus is “apoplectic” over Trump’s refusal to endorse Ryan and is making calls to the campaign to express his “extreme displeasure”

Here’s one more: Yesterday Donald Trump declined to endorse Paul Ryan in his Senate primary bid next week. Today, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said he does endorse Ryan. This comes under the heading of “stuff that’s not supposed to happen.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel assures its readers that Ryan will win, but in fact I can find no recent election polling in Wisconsin. I think people are just assuming that the Mighty Ryan won’t lose. They’re probably right.

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Abraham Lincoln Was Not a Third Party Candidate

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American History

I keep seeing a really stupid meme showing Abraham Lincoln’s face with the words, “In 1860 I was third party. Was your vote wasted?” Obviously, this is meant to encourage people to vote for fringe candidates Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. It’s also the kind of derp that comes from people not being taught history.

In the 1860 elections, the Republicans not only took the White House; they also won a majority of seats in both the Senate and the House. That’s a third party?

Yes, the Republican Party was relatively new, but it was never really a “third” party. Here’s the history:

Let’s go back to 1850. We aleady were locked into a two-party system, and the two major parties were the Democrats and the Whigs.

The Whig party imploded in 1854 over the issue of slavery. Pro-slavery Whigs mostly joined the Democrats. Anti-slavery Whigs and some other factions met later that year to form the beginning of the Republican Party.

In the 1856 elections the Republicans won 90 out of 237 seats in the U.S. House, and they held 15 seats in the Senate, so the Republican Party very quickly took the place of the defunct Whigs to become one of the two major parties. It was never really a “third” party.

In 1860, the Republicans nominated Lincoln and the Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas. But Democrats in slave states were pissed off at Douglas for supporting the statehood of Kansas as a non-slave state, so the southern Democrats met separately to nominate John Breckinridge. The Democratic Party split in half, in other words. And finally there was a party of “third way” types who were anti-secession but didn’t take a position on slavery; this was the Constitutional Union party, which nominated John Bell. There were some other parties in the running but they didn’t win any electoral votes.

Historians today consider Breckinridge and Bell to be the “third party” candidates in that election, and Lincoln and Douglas were the major party candidates. Any freshman-level American history textbook would tell you this.

With the votes split four ways, Lincoln won 39.8 percent of the popular vote and 180 out of 303 electoral college votes, which at the time was enough to give him the victory without it going to the House. Douglas came in second in the popular vote but fourth in the electoral college.

Once again, in 1860 the Republicans also won the majority of seats in both the House and Senate, which is one of the things that triggered the secession crisis. In 1860, the GOP wasn’t just one of the two major parties; it was the dominant party.

On the other hand, a party that’s been around for many years but has never elected anyone to Congress and is (currently) running at about 4 percent in national presidential polls — yeah, I’m talking about the Greens — really is a third party and in no way, shape or form is in the same position as the Republicans in 1860. I hope that’s clear.

Yes, this record shows us a new party becoming very successful, but note that the Whig Party had to die first. As long as the two major parties we have now are both intact, third parties are not likely to achieve the same success.

Update: For some of you not catching on — We’re locked into a two-party system because of the way we hold elections. Our political system supports only two major parties at a time, period, especially at the national level. This article explains why that is pretty well, and also explains why it would probably require amending the Constitution before third parties can become viable. People have been trying to establish successful third parties since the 1830s, and not one has lasted very long. See also a blog post I wrote about this awhile back.

So you started off with the Whigs and Democrats; the Whigs fell apart, and a portion of the Whigs re-formed into the Republicans, while most of the rest of the Whigs joined the Democrats. The Republican Party was basically an update of the Whig Party. Because of those circumstances, the Republicans were able to step into the niche formerly occupied by the Whigs and become one of the two major parties fairly quickly. Most of the guys elected in 1860, including Lincoln himself, were well known to the public as former Whigs.

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About the Bounce, and the Dump

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Bad Hair

Sam Wang discusses Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bounce poll numbers, which put her ahead of Trump by anywhere from one to twelve points.

You may have been following the fallout from Trump’s reaction to Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s appearance at the DNC convention. After putting his foot in his big mouth in a George Stephanopoulos interview, Trump issued this prepared statement [emphasis added]:

“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorist who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country and do us further harm,” Trump said.
“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”
You can’t make this up. Note that the Veterans of Foreign Wars has issued a statement condemning Trump’s statements about the Khan family. The Republicans losing the VFW is a serious thing.
We aren’t done yet. An adviser to the Trump campaign accused Khizr Khan of being an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
We really aren’t done with the Stephanopoulos interview, which I didn’t watch all the way through but may yet. Trump actually declared that Russia would not invade the Ukraine. Seriously, he said that.
In a discussion about US policy toward Ukraine, Stephanopoulos asked Trump about his campaign operatives’ successful effort to block the addition of a plank to the GOP platform that would have advocated providing lethal weapons to Ukraine to help defend against the Russian-backed insurgency in its eastern Donbas region.

Trump said, “I was not involved” no fewer than five times in trying to avoid the issue, which put him in direct opposition to the majority of the Republican foreign policy establishment.

It wasn’t even clear that Trump knew what the change entailed until Stephanopoulos spelled it out for him and asked why he thought it was a good idea.

Trump again dodged, appearing to claim that there was no need for the weapons by arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t going to take action against Ukraine.

“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.”

“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” asked Stephanopoulos.

“OK, well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there yet,” Trump said, rapidly trying to shift the conversation to the subject of President Obama. “You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he’s going where — he takes — takes Crimea, he’s sort of — I mean…”

It was a place Trump should not have gone, because Stephanopoulos then asked about a recent suggestion that he would recognize the Crimea as Russian territory and eliminate sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of the Ukrainian territory.

“I’m going to take a look at it,” he said. “But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

 Next time, somebody should challenge Trump to find the Crimea on a map.

The New York Times looks at Trump’s five deferments that kept him out of Vietnam. Meanwhile, WaPo‘s editorial page today seems entirely dedicated to dumping on Trump:

The Republican leaders Michael Gerson addresses are probably realizing that it would be better for the Republican Party if Trump lost.

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Donald Trump Is a Genuinely Disgusting Person

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Bad Hair

The latest fart from the Great Gasbag:

In his first response to a searing charge from bereaved Army father Khizr Khan that he’d “sacrificed nothing” for his country, Donald Trump claimed that he had in fact sacrificed by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” He also suggested that Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim and questioned whether Khan’s words were his own.

“Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” Trump said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.”

A politician with normal psychological wiring would have expressed his humble gratitude for Captain Humayun Khan’s service, expressed condolences for his family’s loss, and then launched into some boilerplate about what he would do for veterans. But Trump, the psychopathic narcissist, makes everything about himself.

Pressed by Stephanopoulos to name the sacrifices he’d made for his country, Trump said: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

Trump also cited his work on behalf of veterans, including helping to build a Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan, and raising “millions of dollars” for vets.

And just yesterday, he had wanted the sole meunière and had to settle for the herb-crusted salmon. Such a trial.

Update: Oh, and I wanted to add something  about the Houston Chronicle‘s endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

Any one of Trump’s less-than-sterling qualities – his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance – is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, “I alone can fix it,” should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic. …

… These are unsettling times, even if they’re not the dark, dystopian end times that Trump lays out. They require a steady hand. That’s not Donald Trump.

The times also require a person who envisions a hopeful future for this nation, a person who has faith in the strong, prosperous and confident America we hope to bequeath our children and grandchildren, as first lady Michelle Obama so eloquently envisioned in Philadelphia. That’s not Donald Trump’s America.

The endorsement is more hopeful than I am that Hillary Clinton really will follow through on the progressive planks of the Democratic platform, but at least I’m not concerned about her psychological wiring.

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The Problem With Great Expectations

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Democratic Party

So far the Democratic convention has gone much better than I’d feared. I thought the speeches last night were particularly good. If this last day goes smoothly enough Clinton should get a nice bounce in the polls. And I think once more Americans focus on the general election and consider their options, Clinton shouldn’t have that much trouble staying ahead of Trump.

That’s mostly because of Trump. He’s unhinged. He’s in way over his head. The debates are going to be painful and/or a laugh riot, depending on how much you enjoy watching someone embarrass himself. Watch him try to get out of them.

However, I want to talk about expectations and projections. I wrote recently that I hoped there would be a roll call vote at the DNC for the sake of the Sanders supporters, and there was. But then I ran into a conversation in social media among Sanders supporters who were complaining that they didn’t like the way the roll call vote was conducted.

First, they didn’t like that the superdelegate votes were added into the state tallies. But that’s when they are added in, some of us explained. They don’t count until the convention, but now we are at the convention. Now they count. Apparently this was news.

They also didn’t like the cheesy little speeches the spokesperson for each state gave, especially the ones that praised Clinton. Sorry, but that’s the way it’s always done, we said. If you didn’t know that, adjust.

Sometimes, if things don’t turn out the way you expected, you need to honestly admit to yourself that your expectations were wrong. Stomping around being mad isn’t going to change anything.

A bigger howler is by Amanda Marcotte at Salon. Amanda thought President Obama’s speech last night was “meh.” I watched the speech and thought it very good. Maybe a little too long, maybe not the absolute best he ever gave, but on the whole I thought he did a good job reminding Democrats why they are Democrats, knocking Trump, and praising Hillary Clinton. But Marcotte didn’t like it.

It’s hard to put a thesis statement into Barack Obama’s speech. He roamed around, hat-tipping Black Lives Matter and Clinton’s hard work, but one never got the sense, from him, of Clinton as a friend. Michelle Obama sold Clinton that way, portraying her as an older woman she had grown close to and come to admire. Bill Clinton had done it, portraying his wife as she frankly, as a human, deserves to be seen: As a kind-hearted woman who loves her child and can set human male hearts a-flutter. …

… Most of us wanted to hear the real story of how these two former foes became friends. Obama could have told that story in style, and made history while he did it. His failure to do so is on him.

First, who says they are friends? I’ve never gotten the sense that Obama and Clinton were friends. They appear to have had a good working relationship and mutual respect and all that, although for all we know they can’t stand each other and just put on a good act in public. But in this case, Marcotte was upset because Clinton was insufficiently praised, somehow, even though I felt Obama did quite a good job of selling Clinton as the best possible candidate for POTUS. Not that I bought it, but it was a good pitch. But the speech didn’t meet Marcotte’s expectations, so she felt let down.

Many of the Sanders die-hards who were certain he was going to be awarded the nomination at the convention are now certain that the REVOLUTION (these people do love the caps lock button) will happen in November when Jill Stein of the Green Party either wins or takes a lot of states or otherwise screws with the status quo.

Stein is currently polling at 3 percent, which is down from 4.8 percent at the end of June, according to Real Clear Politics.

The tendency to see your side as absolutely pure and blameless and the other side as evil incarnate is on full display. There actually is a strong circumstantial case that Vladimir Putin is connected to Trump and the timing of the Wikileaks email releases. I have no doubt that the Clinton team is working overtime right now to dig up more evidence, and they will find it if it’s out there. But many once-Sanders-now-Stein people are dismissing the Putin allegations as so much propaganda.

And while I’m more or less reconciled to Clinton being the next POTUS, the DNC still needs a thorough shaking out. The Wikileaks emails give us plenty of evidence that the Clinton campaign and the DNC were unfairly working together to kill the Sanders candidacy. They’ve got to be held accountable for this so that it doesn’t happen again. However, the purge is going to have to wait until after the general election.

Going back to President Obama’s speech last night, I liked Andrew O’Hehir’s comment:

His long speech wove its way through and around the central issue of this convention: the unpredictable infusion of new activist energy brought by the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the question of whether that is an asset or a liability when it comes to defeating Donald Trump. I remain amazed, and quite frankly insulted, that so many Democrats seem determined to crush internal dissent and insist on a happy-talk spectacle of enforced conformity. What party do they think they belong to, and what do they know about its history? It’s an insult to the collective intelligence of the broader left-liberal tradition in this country, delivered by well-meaning people who claim to be its defenders and ought to know better.

A lot of the young folks who have just been introduced to presidential politics by working for Bernie Sanders are now thoroughly disgusted with the Democratic Party and want nothing to do with it. But I think the Dems are salvageable once we can pry it out of the hands of the Clintons and their neoliberal cohorts. That’s going to be awhile, unfortunately.

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Messy Choices

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Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton

Last night at the convention went better than I had feared. At least, little of the rancor was noticeable on the teevee.

Later today will come the roll call vote to nominate Clinton. Maybe. CNN reports,

The Sanders campaign is asking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to allow the Vermont senator to help deliver the formal nomination — a symbolic gesture that would allow the majority of Sanders’ delegates to be tallied in the convention while also showing that Sanders is behind Clinton.
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Tuesday that all sides have agreed to let Vermont offer up Clinton’s nomination by unanimous consent but he would not say whether Sanders would be the superdelegate to propose her nomination.

If “unanimous consent” means they’d skip the roll call, IMO that would be a huge mistake. The die-hards still think the vote might magically favor Sanders. The votes need to be public, or else they’re going to forever suspect they were cheated of a victory. And that would be true even if Sanders makes the nomination.

Vice President Joe Biden, who was doing a walkthrough of the Wells Fargo Arena Tuesday morning, said that Democrats need to “show a little class” to Sanders supporters who are still stinging from his loss.
“We have to show a little class and let them be frustrated for a while,” Biden told CNN. “It’s OK.”
I so wish Biden had run. I think he’d be the nominee now, and most people would be okay with that.
We have a seriously difficult thing ahead of us, and I don’t mean just keeping Donald Trump out of the White House. Elect Hillary Clinton, yes, as she’s pretty much what we’re stuck with. But the DNC still needs a thorough flushing out, and having her in the White House is going to make that more difficult. I don’t see how that can be done without hurting her administration, frankly, but that’s how it’s got to be.
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Not a Good Start

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Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton

Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation as chair of the DNC yesterday, although it’s not clear to me if the resignation took effect immediately or after the convention. In any event, the news this morning is that she tried to address the Florida delegation and was robustly booed. That she is still being allowed anywhere near a microphone at a Democratic Party event indicates the DNC is still out to lunch.

By now you’ve probably heard that Wikileaks published a ton of hacked DNC emails. This revealed that DNC staffers on the whole were the kewl kids from high school who were snots to everybody else. They were snots about Sanders and his supporters (examples) and clearly had their thumbs on the scale for Clinton. But they were also bratty about some Clinton donors who weren’t kewl enough, or something.

In a May 16 exchange about where to seat a top Florida donor, Kaplan declared that “he doesn’t sit next to POTUS!” — referring to Obama.

“Bittel will be sitting in the sh—iest corner I can find,” responded Shapiro. She also referred to other donors as “clowns.”

It is now manifestly clear that DNC staff were derisive of Sanders and sought to undermine his campaign.

Several messages show how the DNC, which is supposed to be neutral during the Democratic primary, undermined Bernie Sanders’ campaign while supporting Hillary Clinton’s.

In one email, the DNC acknowledges, “Super PAC paying young voters to push back online on Sanders supporters.”

Another details how DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz furiously pressured MSNBC after it criticized her “unfair” treatment of Sanders.

Several other messages show how the DNC worked with journalists in a way that favored Clinton.

[etc.]

Any chance of “unity” at the Dem convention is close to gone.

If Democrats expect the Republican Convention clown show last week to automatically make the DNC look like a smooth, unifying parade—they better look out the window real soon.

What they’ll likely see is a sea of protesting progressives who stood behind Bernie Sanders throughout the primary and are now standing against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment.

Why wouldn’t they in the aftermath of the recent WikiLeaks dump of nearly 20,000 DNC emails—which show the supposedly neutral arm of the party campaigning to discredit and mock Bernie Sanders; a fact that Sanders and his legion of supporters have been railing about for months, only to be knocked down as “conspiracy theorists.”

To save face, the Democrats forced Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign as party chairwoman. But unfortunately for the establishment, the gasoline has already been poured onto the ever-growing fire of revolt against the Democratic Party—and there’s no sign of those flames dwindling.

Shockingly, their tone deafness struck again as Clinton decided to name Wasserman Schultz as an “honorary chair” of her campaign.

Throughout the primaries, several times on this blog (example), I commented that if Clinton wanted a “unifying” convention she and her supporters had damn well better change her tone toward Sanders and his supporters. That didn’t happen.  If the Dem convention is a mess, that’s on the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Bernie Sanders is doing his best to calm things down, but when he told his delegates that it was imperative to support Hillary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump, they booed him.

I’m not happy about the leaking of the emails, however. Wikileaks is not operating in good faith. People are accusing Wikileaks of being a front for Vladimir Putin, who is said to prefer Trump. And given the timing of the leaks, I can’t say that’s a bad guess.

I have more to say on this, but am short of blogging time. Maybe later.

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A Goblin of Nihilism

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

Daniel O’Hehir explains the dark heart of Trump support:

Being impregnable and invulnerable and indeed indecipherable — possessing no inner life, no discernible ideology and no personality — are not bugs in the Trump avatar’s program. They are essential features of its success. If he could fly or read minds or see the future he would be even better suited for the job of American dictator, and given the slipped gears in the reality matrix those possibilities can’t be ruled out. Trump is dangerous precisely because he does not seem like a real person, and the people voting for him do not think they’re voting in a real election with real consequences. He is an empty symbol with no point of reference, a goblin of nihilism wearing a mask of hope.

As an example of “no point of reference,” Matthew Yglesias points out that Trump’s “law and order” speech last night contained no actual crime policies. He spoke of “law and order” over and over, but his only policy statement was —

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

But to his followers, this doesn’t matter. “The Government” is to them something unreal and alien, like Mordor, and they need an avatar to go in and straighten it out. Exactly what needs straightening and how it’s done doesn’t concern them.

Remember, these are the same people who perpetually complain that The Government, or Political Correctness, or Liberals, or some amorphous thing out there is oppressing them, but they can never provide a concrete example of actual oppression. Nevertheless, they live in a simmering pot of resentment because someone out there disrespects them. And time after time they follow whatever demagogue du jour gives voice to that resentment.

But back to actual Trump — lots of people are pointing to this bit from a New York Times article

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

Of course. Because Trump has never done anything himself. He’s just the guy who puts up the money to make the deals. The actual building and managing and running of the businesses are done by other people. He seems to think he can be President of the United States and delegate the entire job to others, except for the taking credit part. It’s what he’s always done.

But may I also say that Mike Pence is one of the last people on the planet I’d want in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Meanwhile, word is that Hillary Clinton is going to pick Tim Kaine for her veep. This is not official yet, mind you. But if so, this tells me she’s still not getting the national mood. Kaine is a very “safe” pick — from an establishment perspective — who will excite no one who isn’t already in the tank for her.

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Ailes Is Out

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News Media

Roger Ailes resigned from Fox News. But Rupert Murdoch will be stepping into Ailes’s job, unfortunately, so don’t expect anything to change.

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